If you or someone you love has been seriously injured, it’s natural to want the best personal injury attorney you can find. Most practicing lawyers have the ability to provide competent legal counsel, but certain traits distinguish good lawyers from great ones.
If you’re in the important process of deciding on a personal injury attorney for your case, consider the following traits.
Whenever possible, choose an attorney with some years under their belt. A seasoned attorney has accumulated the skills, knowledge, and expertise that can only come from working real cases.
Law school teaches an attorney how to conduct legal research, write legal opinions, and argue complex legal theories, but it doesn’t prepare them for the “real world” of managing multiple cases, supervising staff, understanding a client’s needs, managing a law office, and working with judges, fellow attorneys, and court personnel.
If your only option is someone newer to law, that doesn’t mean you won’t be taken care of. Just make sure they are practicing with the support of a strong team of experienced professionals.
2. Thorough Investigator
A great personal injury attorney understands the importance of conducting an independent accident investigation. You don’t want someone simply using the police report to try to build a case. An independent accident investigation is required to identify and preserve critical evidence to prove the other party caused your injury. Determining fault is required in order to recover damages in a personal injury case.
If necessary, these attorneys will use a network of experts to assist them in their investigations, including accident reconstructionists, medical professionals, and financial advisers, among others, to ensure that they uncover every piece of evidence they can use to prove fault and obtain the maximum compensation allowable by law.
Furthermore, be careful of attorneys who throw around big numbers without performing an investigation. An attorney cannot properly value a personal injury case until they have completed a comprehensive, thorough investigation.
3. Talented Mediator and Litigator
Not every personal injury case needs to be litigated. In some cases, it’s in the best interest of the client to negotiate a settlement prior to filing a lawsuit or going to trial. In order to obtain the most positive outcome possible, you want an attorney who is a savvy mediator, as well as a skilled and successful trial attorney.
Civil litigation can be costly and lengthy. You need compensation as quickly as possible for your injuries, but you do not want to rush to a settlement and leave money on the table. A talented mediator and litigator understands when to bend and when to fight. This gives you the best chance of maximizing your recovery in a personal injury case.
4. Great Listener
Obviously, a personal injury attorney must be able to communicate effectively in order to be successful. Writing and speech that is clear, concise, and persuasive is definitely a trait you want in your attorney. Another crucial element of communication is listening – and your attorney should be great at it.
Some attorneys want to do all the talking. Their client will barely be able to tell their story due to all of the interruptions and opinions. This tendency to talk too much carries over to conversations with other attorneys, judges, witnesses, and experts. If they do not listen effectively, they may miss crucial information. An attorney with good listening skills observes and intently listens without interrupting so they can perform a complex analysis of the case.
When you meet with a personal injury attorney, they should spend a substantial amount of time listening to your story before speaking. When the attorney does respond, you can tell if they’ve been listening by the questions they ask. Do they reference the information you just gave? If so, they were listening and are now following up on certain aspects of your story to gain a deeper insight into the circumstances of your accident.
5. Limited Practice
If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, are you going to go to your family doctor or a physician who specializes in cancer treatment? The same logic applies in your search for a personal injury attorney.
You want an attorney who has limited their practice to injury cases. Someone who is trying to handle cases related to several different areas of law is unable to dedicate all their time to excelling in personal injury law. By limiting their practice, an attorney can give their clients the best legal representation possible.
6. Continued Education
The law is fluid and can change with each case that’s tried and decided by a judge and jury. Laws can be modified or repealed. It is vital that an attorney continues learning by attending continuing education courses.
Attorneys are required to attend a minimum number of hours of continuing education each year to maintain their license. Look for one who exceeds the minimum. You want an attorney who is actively engaged in their field and searches for cutting-edge seminars, programs, and more to better their practice.
Don’t be shy about asking the attorney how they keep up with changes in the legal process and the latest theories applicable to personal injury law.
7. Genuine Care and Compassion
Trust yourself. If you don’t feel comfortable with a personal injury attorney, continue your search. Injury is one of the most devastating life events anyone can experience; you have suffered not only physical injuries but emotional stress, mental anguish, and financial damages. You deserve an attorney who truly cares about you and your family.
A great attorney understands that you and your family are suffering and that your health should be priority one. Let them worry about insurance adjusters, attorneys, and other parties involved in a personal injury lawsuit. They will aggressively fight on your behalf to get you the compensation you need.
A Few Final Words
Everyone and every case is different. We encourage you to do some research and schedule a free consultation with a personal attorney or two you feel could be a good match.
After all, everyone deserves their best chance at obtaining compensation for lost income, medical bills, permanent injury, and pain and suffering.